Category Archives: Profile

Author of new circuit, now a forgotten figure

Punch Gunalan looks tired. Perhaps it’s the heart operation he’d had, or perhaps it’s just age — he will soon be 67 — but the man who once ruled badminton looks careworn and able to speak only in a near-whisper. “Let God decide if I have to come back into badminton,” he says, but you sense he doesn’t have it in him to fight any more. Continue reading

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Former prodigy watches old friend from the sidelines

Recollecting an old story I’d written: “Six years after Abhishek Bakshi gave up badminton — on the cusp of becoming P Gopichand’s successor and the game’s most charismatic figure in India since Prakash Padukone — he returned to watch childhood friend Anup Sridhar reach the quarterfinals of the world championships…” Continue reading

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Hong Kong Open: Saina wraps it in style

To a country long accustomed to dominating badminton — especially the women’s events – China has a problem on its hands. It’s called Saina Nehwal. Continue reading

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Prannoy has to settle for silver

His son’s campaign didn’t quite end in a fairytale, but Sunil Kumar is hoping Prannoy can at least make his other wish come true. Prannoy’s sister will be married on August 28th – and, well – “she’s his only sister, after all”.
Still, the silver medal would do. HS Prannoy’s remarkable run at the Youth Olympics in Singapore ended just short of a gold medal; the Indian fell at the final hurdle to Thailand’s Pisit Poodchalat in straight games, 21-15 21-16 on Thursday. Continue reading

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Kenichi Tago — face of the new generation?

Kenichi Tago, a 20-year-old only in his second year of senior badminton, astonished spectators over the week as he surmounted one improbable barrier after another to become the first Japanese since 1966 in the All England men’s singles final. Displaying a physical and mental maturity far beyond his years, Tago is the story on this year’s All England. Continue reading

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Another day in the office for Saina Nehwal

Beyond the glamour of the five-star receptions and state honours and television interviews, Saina Nehwal braces. It’s early yet, just 8am on a bitterly cold morning in Birmingham, and she will have to wait until evening to take on her opponent for a place in the All England semifinal. It’s going to be another tough day; the kind that has defined her playing life — and far removed from the images that she has been associated with as a top star in badminton. Continue reading

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‘Badminton? That’s for girls!’

Erland Kops. The name is like its bearer — evoking images of toughness, masculinity, a quiet menace. There is no romance in the name, just an air of finality. Photographs of him in the late Fifties and Sixties show a bearded, muscular man with no hint of levity on his face. Continue reading

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